Some bands form around a vocal talent or a musical talent, and find the rest of the pieces elsewhere. Now and then, a handful of individual artists team up, creating something unknown and beautiful. Humble Beast Records holds in their arsenal one such band. ‘Humble Beǝst’, as the label is known, is made up of individual artists that seek to “express [their] life through [their] gifts” to glorify Christ. (Perhaps the most well known Beast artist, Propaganda, has made great impact with his ministry, working with Dare 2 Share doing “Life in 6 Words” to help spread the gospel. His new album, Excellent, got some publicity even this week as Lecrae (Reach Records) wore Propaganda’s official shirt during the Billy Graham special “My Hope America” which aired on Fox News.) Label-mates Braille, Odd Thomas, and Courtland Urbano teamed up to create Beautiful Eulogy. With an unexpected collision of hip-hop, folk, and “church music”, Instruments of Mercy is catchy, if only out of curiosity.
The initial listening catches the music – is it hip-hop or folk? There’s electric guitar and a cello on the same track. There’s a tambourine, but definitely a synthesizer. People are clapping, but the drum kick is unmistakable. The opening track, Cello From Portland, brings in musical elements from all across the band’s repertoire. Just as a fresh can of Coca-Cola snaps and fizzes, the second track suddenly drops. With a repetitive, simple backbeat, the lyrics – packed with solid truth – flow incredibly quickly with rhythm that outpaces the snapping music. With the mystery of an unidentified flying object Exile Dial Tones begins to play, bringing in catchy clapping. With almost obvious honesty they spit “it’s not that they don’t like us/ it’s just they don’t like God in us”, putting into a song something many Christians have struggled to understand. They go on to proclaim, “we are the light of the world/ so shine on.” The album slows down with soft guitar, but the verbal attack presses even harder. The Size of Sin reminds listeners of the immense power of mercy and grace, but does so without stirring up guilt. The next track climbs in with a gentle piano introduction, setting up a quiet, Indie-style vocal declaring “only You can save me/ save me”, thanking and asking God for the same thing at once. The title track breaks up repetitively simple guitar strumming with choral vocals and quick-tempo spoken word. Symbols And Signs kicks in, ripping lyrical wisdom for almost four minutes. A call-out is left hanging as they ask, “…don’t you find it interesting/ how most of the time your self-interpreting/ seems to coincide with what’s deep inside your heart’s desires? A low hum loops almost like a broken record in Release Me From This Snare, playing behind the band praying for Jesus to wash away the snare of sin. With an up and down progression of rhythm, still laced with tongue-twisting lyricism, Organized Rebellion provides repeated examples how “with these hands/ I build or destroy.” A hint of Latin music salsas its way onto the album in Raise the Bridge, bringing maracas into a hip-hop track, but without seeming surprising. In case the point had been lost through the album, The Size of Grace goes over the inexplicable trade Jesus made for us, taking our sin instead of handing out our deserved judgment. The album closes with an opening line to catch attention: “on that day we will sing of the name/ more excellent than angels/ a purified bride/ refined heart, speech, and mind”, glimpsing ahead to the end of eternity. The song goes on to promise that we will “…receive a crown/ only to cast it down/ at the feet of the resurrected Jesus/ in a perfect ceaseless form of worship singing/ glory.”
The album isn’t what most would expect – it’s a hip-hop label, bolstering rap more than clap, that somehow blends the two. The music is enough to keep listeners entertained, with or without the lyrics. The lyrics are equally encouraging and challenging. As a whole, Beautiful Eulogy created an experience – one they offer for free. Simply a must-have for any music library.
Free download: http://noisetrade.com/beautifuleulogy/instruments-of-mercy